Saturday, August 27, 2011

August Curry and Cucumber Raita

If you are looking to try something new with your tomatoes this week, August Curry is the thing for you! The colorful peppers, tomatoes, and onion make it just right for preparing in August with everything straight from the garden! The fragrant spice blend makes for a delicious treat for all of your senses! I am posting the beef version, and the vegetarian version that I eat! My family loves both.

August Curry                                                  
1 tbsp ghee or olive oil, or butter
1 onion thinly sliced 
2 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 piece fresh ginger root 1 inch grated
hot pepper of your choice, or red pepper flakes      
1 lb. sirloin steak- cut into thin strips

3 bell peppers any color thinly sliced
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tbsp Garam Masala
3 Tomatoes chopped
 2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp water

Heat 1/2 tbsp of the ghee, oil or butter in a heavy skillet or wok over low heat. Add the onion and cook for 7-10 minutes until onions are 
soft. Increase to medium heat and add the garlic, ginger, hot pepper, and steak. Cook 5 minutes until steak is cooked on all sides. Remove everything from pan and keep warm. Add the rest of the ghee and the bell peppers to the pan and cook until soft. Add cumin and Garam Masala and stir. Add tomatoes and lemon juice and water to pan. Cook for 2 minutes stirring the whole time. Add meat back to pan and season with salt as desired. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro for garnish if desired. Delicious  wrapped in warm Naan Bread with hummus. You can use pita bread or whole grain wraps if Naan isn't available.       

For the vegetarian variation use whatever combination of veggies you desire! I used cabbage, green beans, onion, garlic, eggplant, chickpeas, and fresh tomatoes.  Simply saute the veggies together and then follow the directions for adding the water, lemon juice, and spices. I still served it wrapped in warm naan bread that was spread with home made hummus, but any store bought hummus will suffice as well. 

Ghee and Garam Masala may be unfamiliar items to you,  but they are very common in Indian cooking. Ghee is simply clarified butter and Garam Masala is a heavenly blend of spices that smell as exotic as they taste! Believe me it is worth the 5.00 a jar price tag. You can find it in the spice section of the grocery store. If you  make your curry hot and spicy you  may like this Cucumber Raita. A Raita is traditionally used for adding a cooling effect to spicy hot dishes. It is also delicious used as a dip for warm Naan Bread. Just another good reason to eat more Naan Bread! 

Cucumber Raita                                                  

1 Cucumber finely chopped, peeled if desired
1 onion finely chopped
1 and 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/4 c water
fresh mint

Mix yogurt and water and cucumber and onion and very finely chopped fresh mint. Add salt to taste. You may use sour cream in place of yogurt, however you will be missing the lovely tang of the yogurt. For a dairy free version try using Better Than Sour Cream. It can be found in the health food section at Kroger.  If you want a more traditional cucumber dip use dill in place of the mint and serve with toasted pita wedges, crackers, and fresh veggies.  Enjoy!

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